SVP launch challenge to energy strategy

The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) is to challenge the government’s ‘energy strategy 2050’ to a referendum.

SVP launch challenge to energy strategy
Nuclear power is to be phased out. File photo: AFP, Fabrice Coffrini

In a statement on Friday reported by news agencies, it said plans by energy minister Doris Leuthard to pull the plug on atomic power, increase use of renewables and lower consumption were irresponsible and invasive.

The populist party said the strategy for future energy use would place a big burden on future generations.

Citizens, tenants, house owners, car drivers and business people should have the chance to oppose the plans in a referendum, it said.

The announcement comes a week after parliament gave strong support to a first raft of measures in the strategy, despite opposition from SVP and Liberal-Radical parliamentarians.

The right-wing party says it is launching the referendum with the support of associations and businesses, including Swissmem that represents the machine, electrical and metal industries.

The SVP leadership first announced plans for a referendum in August, but said it was conditional on support from the business world.

In response, the two largest business associations, economiesuisse and Swiss Trade Association SGV, made it clear they would not join the SVP in launching a referendum.

The energy strategy 2050 was triggered by the Fukushima nuclear power disaster in Japan in 2011.

Two months later the government decided that no new nuclear power plants would be built in Switzerland, and this was backed by parliament.

The government presented its first set of measures to parliament in 2013 where they were hotly debated. These included increasing support for renewable energies and the renovation of buildings to make them more eco-friendly.

It was reported on Wednesday that the Leibstadt nuclear power plant in the canton of Aargau would remain closed until February 2017 after an annual inspection detected problems with fuel elements.

It follows the switching off of a reactor at Switzerland’s oldest atomic plant, Beznau.

Switzerland has four nuclear plants supplying over a third of its electricity requirement.

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